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Thursday, April 9, 2015

KidStartNow: Our Adventures in Chinese Class Part 2

Over the past couple of weeks, our older son Z has been going around uttering interesting non-English phrases. While most of what he has been saying is of a creative nature, there are a couple of phrases that I can actually understand. For instance, our 4yo enjoys asking "你好吗?" or "How are you?". Then there is also the phrase "门" or "open the door", which he is comfortable saying. Interestingly, our little boy now recognises a number of words which he had previously had no knowledge of; words such as "人" or "man", "口" or "mouth", and "水" or "water". I am so glad for the influence that his Chinese class has had on him!
Our son Z is taking the learning of Chinese very seriously!
Two weeks ago I decided to sit in the class. Due to work commitments, I have not had the opportunity to personally see for myself how the class is being conducted. But I am fortunate that there is a lull in my working schedule at this moment, and I had the privilege of enjoying a Daddy-Son outing with Z to his Chinese class.

KidStartNow is located in Kallang. The first thing you would notice when you enter the premise is that how comfortably the place has been designed. For instance, there is a lovely waiting room for parents (or rather grandparents and helpers) to watch the goings on in class through a live TV screen broadcast. Parents can therefore watch what is happening in class without distracting the proceedings.
The class walls are decorated to help create a conducive learning atmosphere.
The list of words the children are supposed to learn.
There are three main parts to a KidStartNow lesson. The first comprises learning from a DVD. This is an animation series produced specially by curriculum experts from KidStartNow. The current story revolves around Little Red Riding Hood and her encounters with a Wolf. Throw in a Pirate Panda and his Panda Sister; and the story does get rather interesting.
Class sizes are not big. This ensures a small teacher-student ratio.
An engaging teacher makes for an enjoyable learning experience.
The children are usually excited at being able to recognise various words. Each of them is shown here
enthusiastically indicating to the teacher what is being learnt. 
The strength of the KidStartNow class is the personal interaction between
student and teacher. Children get the attention they need and learn better.
The second part of the lesson is normally centred around an activity. During this session, students learnt the Chinese words for five different types of tastes - sour, sweet, bitter, spicy and salty. Each student got to sample a different item and they were then asked to associate the taste with the word.
Demonstrating what "酸" or "sour" tastes like. The kids were tickled to associate a lemon with the word "酸".
The least favourite taste. Students took turns to spit out the bittergourd
but not without first learning the Chinese word for "bitter".
By associating learning with authentic experiences, KidStartNow provides a
fun learning time for the kids. And kids who are happier definitely learn better!
Students only get to write during the third and last part of the lesson. During this segment they take out their workbooks and get to practice writing the Chinese characters. By getting the kids to write down what they have learnt, the children are then able to consolidate their learning; and hopefully remember their lessons better.
First an oral demonstration. Then a written practice.
We are so thankful that our little 4yo is taking his writing and learning seriously. We may yet have a
Chinese scholar in the family!
It has been a fruitful term for our son. Sue and I have seen a marked improvement in Z's attitude towards listening to the teacher, interacting with other students, and learning the language. We are so glad for this opportunity for him to learn!

Click here for Part 1 of the KidStartNow review.

Note: This is part of a series of reviews arranged between KidStartNow and Parenting on Purpose. Z attended complimentary Chinese lessons for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed here are our own.

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